3/28/2013 - Bright, vibrant, in-your-face — this, says Andre Bertolino, is how you capture attention.
Concord resident Andre Bertolino is showing “Urban Decay” in Wonder Made’s first and only hanging art show. His work embodies these evocative elements, but in creating it, he also makes statements about the good and bad in urban America, through its advertisement mazes and graffiti art.
“They’re layered, colorful, interpretive, and they have a lot of heart behind them. He has a great balance from being very intricate and very simple, and I’ve never seen work quite like his,” said Laura Loci, one of Wonder Made’s founders.
Oil and spray painted canvases make up the show. The oil paintings tell of the big city and its propaganda, of its advertisements plastered every which way, of its geometric shapes clustering and confusing the people in it. This, in his opinion, is one version of urban decay. On the other hand, the spray-painted pieces are his newest, and represent the beauty of urban decay, the kind that’s splattered on streets, roads and alleyways in graffiti.
Bertolino says he’s indifferent about the materials he uses. “The medium doesn’t really mean anything to me. It’s just a medium,” he said.
The spray paint, while it worked out as part of the theme of the show, was convenient because it dries faster than oil. Brushes are nice for softer, more sensual edges, and the knife offers more of a hard edge.
One thing you’ll notice, walking through the maze of homemade items at the tiny shop on Warren Street, is the exactitude of his art. Some artists add layers and layers to their work, but Bertolino tries to get it right the first time, which is evident through his straight edges and crisp shapes. Even his spray-painted work is surprisingly intricate, considering the medium. Spray paint usually offers hazy lines, but he created detailed stencils for these.
It’s also clustered with all kinds of art references: religious art, Japanese art, Chinese art, Disney art and art from the 1920s film industry. “Everything is Fine, Keep Shopping” is comprised of three robot women and scattered pink flowers with a distorted American flag in the backdrop. Inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, this piece required more paint than his homemade canvas pieces because it’s painted on a window pane. The frame comes from old fence wood.
This window pane element and his homemade frames embody what Wonder Made stands for.
“He makes everything on his paintings, including the frames. I also like how much he can say in a painting and not be obvious,” Loci said.
One oil painting, “Winter Gardens,” for instance, has an abstract cityscape feel to it; it’s as though tall skyscrapers are interconnected, but it’s difficult to tell which path goes in which direction.
“It’s kind of like a maze. You feel trapped inside. There’s no real horizon in here; there’s only walls. That’s how I feel when going into a city. You can’t get out,” Bertolino said in an interview at the shop last week.
“Stream of consciousness” has a similar effect. This painting, also made from oil, is large and impossible not to notice. Bertolino splashed every shade of every color in the rainbow in this canvas piece. Layers and layers of yellows, pinks, reds, blues, violets and oranges pop up in various square and rectangle shapes. It’s impossible to miss, but it’s also difficult to focus on.
Bertolino, who is from New York, talks very highly of the art within the city, if not of the city itself.
In his past New Hampshire exhibitions, his work sold out fast, Loci said, perhaps because of the statement he makes in each piece. Or perhaps buyers are attracted to the straight, meticulous geometry evident in his older paintings.
Bertolino simply admires the form of expression.
“You can say some things better through art than you can through words,” he said.